High-Tech Problem Solvers

Ford built a high-speed bug launcher to test autonomous technology

Ford engineers have thought of a sloppy but ingenious way to test autonomous driving development technology.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Thwack! That distinctive sound of a bug hitting the windshield is something drivers are all too familiar with. While the smear of a bug may impact a driver's visibility for a moment, the effect it could have on an autonomous driving sensor could result in a catastrophic system failure. That's something Venky Krishnan, autonomous vehicle systems core supervisor, Ford Motor Company has to spend time thinking about.

In a new post on Medium, Krishnan describes the extensive efforts Ford is putting into keeping those sensors clean. "We've sprayed dirt and dust onto our self-driving vehicle sensors. We've showered LiDAR sensors with water to simulate rainfall. We created our own synthetic bird droppings and smeared it on camera lenses," he shared.

Ford Bug Launcher Ford's autonomous driving technology prototypes include a collection of cameras, LiDAR and radar that needs to be kept clean.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

But that's not all. Ford enlisted the help of zoologist Mark Hostetler to help them discern which bugs are most likely to make contact with the sensors and how often those interactions happen.

The automaker even developed a bug launcher that allows them to shoot insects at vehicle sensors at high speeds, simulating the way they impact vehicles in the real world.

Ford Bug Cannon GIF Ford has developed a cannon that shoots bugs onto its autonomous vehicle sensors to test how they operate under less than ideal conditions.GIF courtesy of Ford Motor Company

While the solutions are complex (the Ford team has already submitted over 50 patents worth of possible solutions to the issue), the issue may be best remedied by keeping autonomous vehicles from hitting bugs in the first place, according to Krishnan.

A new version of the system is now testing on Ford's third-generation self-driving test vehicle fleet in Detroit, Pittsburgh, Miami-Dade County and Washington, D.C. where the types of bugs and environments resulting in splatter vary greatly.

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Carvana has revealed which used cars customers are searching for the most.

Photo courtesy of Carvana

Used car seller Carvana has released its list of the used vehicles that are most sought after by Texas shoppers. The list is mostly made up of the usual suspects - perennial best-sellers in their class. Cars, trucks, and SUVs are all represented in the rankings.

One of the most popular models is the Ford F-150, a full-size truck that is the best-selling vehicle in the country. Its rivals, the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Toyota Tundra, and Nissan Titan do not make the list.

Despite being the best-selling new SUV, the Toyota RAV4 does not make thIs list of used vehicles in high demand in Texas. However, its competition does. The Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and Ford Escape are popular in Texas's biggest cities.

Carvana has vending machine locations in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas. The company can also deliver vehicles to customers. What's popular in those towns? They have broken the list down by city. You can find Houston's most popular here, Austin's here, San Antonio's info here, and Dallas picks here.

Here are the top five used vehicles Texas shoppers are searching for.

No. 5 - Ford Fusion

2019 Ford Fusion


Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Ford Fusion is a comfortable commuter car. It is available in a hybrid version, which achieves excellent fuel economy. All Fusion models share a similar interior design with comfortable seating and an easy-to-use infotainment system.

No. 4 - Nissan Altima

2020 Nissan Altima

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Altima was recently redesigned but even if you go for an older model, you'll still be getting a comfortable and fuel-efficient midsize car.

No. 3 - Nissan Rogue

2019 Nissan Rogue Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Rogue delivers premium level appointments in higher grades and can come equipped with the company's high-tech driver assistance system - just two of the factors that make it desirable.

No. 2- Toyota Camry

2019 Toyota Camry Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The Toyota Camry has many of the same desirable characteristics as the Toyota Corolla. It's reliable and comes standard with a long list of safety features. It's spacious, comfortable, and easy to drive.

No. 1 - Ford F-150

2015 Ford F-150 These five used cars have the highest demand in Dallas and Fort Worth according to Carvana Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Whether you're buying a new Ford F-150 or one that's a few years old, you're getting a strong and capable truck that is equally as comfortable on-road as it is off, worksite included.

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The Nissan Rogue is one of the most sought-after used cars in Atlanta.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Used car seller Carvana has released its list of the used vehicles that are most sought after by Atlanta, Georgia area shoppers. The list is mostly made up of the usual suspects - perennial best-sellers in their class. Here are the top five.

No. 5 - Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The Toyota Corolla is one of the best-selling cars in the world. It’s perennially reliable, fuel efficient, and some with a good suite of standard safety technology.

No. 4 - Nissan Rogue

2020 Nissan Rogue Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Rogue delivers premium level appointments in higher grades and can come equipped with the company’s high-tech driver assistance system - just two of the factors that make it desirable.

No. 3 - Honda Accord

2015 Honda Accord Hybrid Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

The Honda Accord is a comfortable, fuel-efficient, reliable model. Buyers like its passenger and cargo space, along with its easy driveability.

No. 2 - Nissan Altima

2019 Nissan Altima

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Altima was recently redesigned but even if you go for an older model, you’ll still be getting a comfortable and fuel-efficient midsize car.

No. 1 - Toyota Camry

2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The Toyota Camry has many of the same desirable characteristics as the Toyota Corolla. It’s reliable and comes standard with a long list of safety features. It’s spacious, comfortable, and easy to drive.

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